Is it possible to derive an objective standard of morality from completely secular bases?

Fox

Ad Honorem
Oct 2011
3,833
Korea
#11
Its been done..... that is why most cultures have a "do not kill" rule....

"Morality" is a set of rules that comes from observation.... For example over time most cultures have observed that killing leads to problems... If you kill someone from your tribe his family is likely to come after you and this has the potential of snowballing (you bring your friends , they bring theirs etc...) to the point where the whole tribe's survival is endangered..... If you kill someone from another tribe, its more complicated, but there is the risk that his tribe will come to destroy your tribe... Not good obviously.... hence the do not kill rules... which aim to prevent/minimize such problems and risks...

Religion provided a framework to enforce these rules in a time where police and justice where .... minimal... faced with the weakness of law enforcement, the invention of all seeing entity who would punish murderers in this life (aka the Cain and Abel story) or the next was a handy way to keep many from breaking the rules
And yet, we don't actually have a unified, singular version of the "do not kill" rule which is shared by all cultures throughout history. We do see general prohibitions against "murder," but because "murder" is defined as "killing which is wrong in some way," that's merely tautological. When we reduce from "murder" back to "killing," we see that cultural codes about the topic have ranged wildly:

1) Some societies have tolerated, or even encouraged, killing of outsiders, others have not. Indeed, I just read an article this weekend about a small tribal group that killed a missionary who was trying to bring them gifts and communicate with them. Watching people -- people who, given this was the New York Times, would generally be against using force to preserve cultural uniformity or norms -- support the actions of the tribe was interesting.

2) Some societies have kill people convicted of crimes, others do not. Some have engaged in outright human sacrifice.

3) Modern western society is at a juncture where it outright encourages a particular form of killing: abortion. There have been other periods in history where women have abandoned infants and left them for dead, but has the killing of infants ever been carried out on such a systematic scale, even in relative terms but especially in absolute terms? I don't know, but what's clear is that these killings are tolerated at large, and outright lauded by some.

4) And of course, warfare; very few societies have been pacifistic, and of those which have, most seem to have been religious. You see rare examples like the practitioners of Ajivika which were ostensibly pacifistic yet atheists, but even they were not basing their conduct on "secular" logic.

And so on and so forth; examples are so abundant that they really don't require further enumeration. It seems to me that if we look at human conduct across the globe and throughout the years, the general principle we can draw from their conduct is not, "Do not kill," but rather, "Kill whenever the people around you seem to think it's a good idea," which is a relative, pragmatic standard rather than an objective moral one. And remember that killing is one of the most extreme forms of "misconduct" we can imagine.
 
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kandal

Ad Honorem
Aug 2015
2,318
USA
#12
Can we arrive at an objective set of moral principles using reason alone without influence of emotions, or from secular means? I mean for example the Mongols used their reasoning to derive that it was OK to slaughter entire cities for refusing to surrender after a given time, which is unnaceptable to contemporary secular reasoning, and the Romans genocided entire tribes which annoyed them too much, and it was standard practice from ancient armies to rape and pillage the losing side, which is again unnaceptable to modern moral reasoning. And it seems that a lot of secular modern standards seem to come from seem to come from Abrahamic religious morality, such as showing mercy to the weak or the vanquished, and respecting the dignity of the individual person hood.
Moral principles themselves are secular in a basic sense. There are good moral principles and bad ones. All humans are born with it, but the proportions wary with the individual.

Religions like Christianity and Buddhism highlight the good moral principles for man. Religions like Islam with its emphasis on violence, and Hinduism with its caste system highlights the bad moral principles.
 
#13
What are morals? I think that they are a set of "rules of thumb" to guide human behaviour. Thus we have the moral rule "It is wrong to kill other people"; everyone agrees with that rule, don't they? But then if a man is attacking your child with a knife, you do all you can to stop him, and you will kill him if that is needed to protect your child. That's why I say it is a "rule of thumb", not a hard-and-fast immutable rule, but a strong guide people say they OUGHT to live by, but in some circumstances do not.

Similarly, even people who disagree with the judicial death penalty, and who oppose abortion, saying it is wrong to kill another human being, might not be pacifists, that is they believe in the maintenance of armed forces and will approve of going to war, which of course involves the killing of thousands (including civilians, inevitably).

Even religion, which proclaims that the moral rules come directly from God and must be obeyed on pain of damnation, will approve of killing in some circumstances, we even have clerics blessing nuclear submarines etc.

We need to have declarations of Human Rights and similar documents, backed by and enforced by international law. That's the only way to really prevent humans killing each other.
 

Ficino

Ad Honorem
Apr 2012
6,646
Romania
#14
Can we arrive at an objective set of moral principles using reason alone without influence of emotions, or from secular means? I mean for example the Mongols used their reasoning to derive that it was OK to slaughter entire cities for refusing to surrender after a given time, which is unnaceptable to contemporary secular reasoning, and the Romans genocided entire tribes which annoyed them too much, and it was standard practice from ancient armies to rape and pillage the losing side, which is again unnaceptable to modern moral reasoning. And it seems that a lot of secular modern standards seem to come from seem to come from Abrahamic religious morality, such as showing mercy to the weak or the vanquished, and respecting the dignity of the individual person hood.
Morality has a single principle: "do what is good and avoid doing what is evil". Now, while what is good preserves being and what is evil destroys it, considering that "good" are the deeds that lead to good and "evil" the deeds that lead to evil, and that higher goods are more important than lower goods (as they preserve what is understood as ontologically superior) so that deeds leading to highest goods are "good" even if they appear as "evil" in relation to lower goods (and vice-versa), the problem is to establish which is the highest good. According to religion the highest good is God, the origin and end of everything good. BTW, I don't know any source claiming that the Romans regarded raping and pillaging as moral acts, do you know?
 
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tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,534
#15
And yet, we don't actually have a unified, singular version of the "do not kill" rule which is shared by all cultures throughout history. We do see general prohibitions against "murder," but because "murder" is defined as "killing which is wrong in some way," that's merely tautological. When we reduce from "murder" back to "killing," we see that cultural codes about the topic have ranged wildly:

1) Some societies have tolerated, or even encouraged, killing of outsiders, others have not. Indeed, I just read an article this weekend about a small tribal group that killed a missionary who was trying to bring them gifts and communicate with them. Watching people -- people who, given this was the New York Times, would generally be against using force to preserve cultural uniformity or norms -- support the actions of the tribe was interesting.

2) Some societies have kill people convicted of crimes, others do not. Some have engaged in outright human sacrifice.

3) Modern western society is at a juncture where it outright encourages a particular form of killing: abortion. There have been other periods in history where women have abandoned infants and left them for dead, but has the killing of infants ever been carried out on such a systematic scale, even in relative terms but especially in absolute terms? I don't know, but what's clear is that these killings are tolerated at large, and outright lauded by some.

4) And of course, warfare; very few societies have been pacifistic, and of those which have, most seem to have been religious. You see rare examples like the practitioners of Ajivika which were ostensibly pacifistic yet atheists, but even they were not basing their conduct on "secular" logic.

And so on and so forth; examples are so abundant that they really don't require further enumeration. It seems to me that if we look at human conduct across the globe and throughout the years, the general principle we can draw from their conduct is not, "Do not kill," but rather, "Kill whenever the people around you seem to think it's a good idea," which is a relative, pragmatic standard rather than an objective moral one. And remember that killing is one of the most extreme forms of "misconduct" we can imagine.
Obviously I gave a simplified answer to keep it short

Since rules are derived from observation, then they will vary somewhat depending on what a human group has beem exposed to... In the sentinel example they have not it seems (so far) suffered from killing foreigners, so they keep on doing it.

This said, the "no kill " rules tend to converge once there is interaction between different societies...
 

tomar

Ad Honoris
Jan 2011
12,534
#16
Morality has a single principle: "do what is good and avoid doing what is evil". Now, while what is good preserves being and what is evil destroys it, considering that "good" are the deeds that lead to good and "evil" the deeds that lead to evil, and that higher goods are more important than lower goods (as they preserve what is understood as ontologically superior) so that deeds leading to highest goods are "good" even if they appear as "evil" in relation to lower goods (and vice-versa), the problem is to establish which is the highest good. According to religion the highest good is God, the origin and end of everything good. BTW, I don't know any source claiming that the Romans regarded raping and pillaging as moral acts, do you know?
This does not help as "good" and "evil" are likewise subjective .... as for the reference to God since he is supposed to be the origin of everything then he is also the origin of evil per definition....
 
#17
Can we arrive at an objective set of moral principles using reason alone without influence of emotions, or from secular means? I mean for example the Mongols used their reasoning to derive that it was OK to slaughter entire cities for refusing to surrender after a given time, which is unnaceptable to contemporary secular reasoning, and the Romans genocided entire tribes which annoyed them too much, and it was standard practice from ancient armies to rape and pillage the losing side, which is again unnaceptable to modern moral reasoning.
I don't think that the ancients considered that there was morality in war. The Romans did have morals, that is rules of behaviour within society designed to prevent people harming each other, but when it came to war (an activity outside of society, against enemies who are not IN society) it was felt only natural to fight it with the utmost violence. This same attitude is held by most in the West today: there is no condemnation of the bombing of German cities in WW2, killing thousands of civilians.
 
Apr 2018
1,312
Mythical land.
#18
An objective moral standard no.
A moral standard from a secular base, yes.

The issue being that morality is entirely subject to the society which creates it.
so you think that a society that agrees on killing homosexuals because of homosexuality are in no way worse than a society that allows them to live with dignity like any other citizens?
 
Apr 2018
1,312
Mythical land.
#19
all morality is based in subjective frameworks,like take human "well being" for example.

After this subjective framework is agreed upon,from this point onward we can derive objective "oughts"

like "you ought not to kill"
reason being it violates well being of people regardless of any person's opinion,it would be objective fact that well being of person is being violated if someone kills him.
and anybody who does any of the "ought not" has suspended his "well being".
 
Apr 2018
1,312
Mythical land.
#20
Moral principles themselves are secular in a basic sense. There are good moral principles and bad ones. All humans are born with it, but the proportions wary with the individual.

Religions like Christianity and Buddhism highlight the good moral principles for man. Religions like Islam with its emphasis on violence, and Hinduism with its caste system highlights the bad moral principles.
christanity with its war rape approval(virgins any one?),rape apologia,slavery,homophobia,genocide(cannite,mideanites),baby killing,etc show a very bad moral standard,if any.
 

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